What you need to know

Millennials are the largest group of consumers and wield significant spending power, making it critical for brands and retailers to understand how to connect with this grown-up generation. Older Millennials are helping drive the uptick in ecommerce, with 30% shopping two or more times a week and 27% once a week, compared to 26% and 24% for Younger Millennials, respectively. With different responsibilities on their plate (eg families), Older Millennials look for brands and retailers to offer convenience and value through ecommerce to help them keep their life moving forward.

Millennials face further challenging employment opportunities and stunted wage growth as COVID-19 disrupted the economy in 2020 and into 2021. Over 14% of Millennials found themselves unemployed in April 2020; those who were fortunate to keep their jobs shifted to remote working which came with its own set of challenges. Millennials relied on brands’ and retailers’ online presence to find products, services, and entertainment to help them adjust to their new way of everyday living.

As Millennials shop online, they look for brands and retailers that respect their desire for both privacy protection and sustainability-focused business initiatives. Millennials aren’t afraid to put their money where their mouth is, meaning brands and retailers need to connect with them emotionally on mutually shared values in order to earn their dollars.

Looking ahead, as the ecommerce landscape progresses, social commerce will be a critical avenue to engage with Millennials and streamline the shopping process. Emerging social channels such as TikTok will be important to leverage to connect with Younger Millennials as well as implementing strategies on established channels such as Instagram and Pinterest to connect with Older Millennials. Social media will continue to be a place where all Millennials discover, research, and purchase all on one platform – playing a more prominent role in ecommerce overall.

This Report looks at the following areas

  • Older Millennials driving the rise of ecommerce.

  • The impact of COVID-19 on Millennials and their shopping behavior

  • Millennials need for convenience, experiences, and sustainability as they shop online

  • The critical role of social commerce and technology throughout the ecommerce journey


For the purposes of this Report, Mintel has used the following definitions:

Millennials are defined as those born between the years 1980 and 1996, ranging in age from 25 to 41 years old in 2021.

Older Millennials: Those born between the years 1980 and 1988, ranging in age from 33 to 41 years old in 2021.

Younger Millennials: Those born between the years 1989 and 1996, ranging in age from 25 to 32 years old in 2021.

This Report builds on the previous Report eCommerce Behaviors: Gen Z vs. Millennials Incl Impact of COVID-19 – US, June 2020 and Millennial Online Shopping Habits – US, June 2019.

Research for this Report was fielded in February 2021. The Report was written in May-June 2021.

Market context

Economic and other assumptions

Mintel bases its expectations for economic growth on projections provided by the CBO, the FOMC, the Conference Board and other public sources. Consensus estimates forecast US GDP to increase by 6.5% in 2021. Unemployment has been forecast to decline to as low as 4.1% by the end of 2021 with an average of 5.7% for the year.

COVID-19: US context

The first COVID-19 case was confirmed in the US in January 2020. It was declared a global health pandemic and national emergency in early March 2020. Across the US, various stay-at-home orders were put in place in spring 2020, and non-essential businesses and school districts closed or shifted to remote operations. The remainder of 2020 saw rolling orders, as states and local governments relaxed and reinforced guidelines according to the spread of the virus in each region.

Vaccine rollout began in December 2020. Mintel anticipates business operations in the US will remain in a state of flux through 2021 as vaccines are widely administered and social distancing restrictions and capacity limitations gradually relaxed.

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